Posted in Apothecary for the Creative Spirit, Art and Healing, Artistic Almshouse, Artistic Midwife, Aussie Birds and Animal Wisdom, Heather Blakey, Just Killing Time, Killing Time, Purveyor of Creative Stimuli, Romancing the Creative Spirit, Wild Play

A Dreaming Space

The appearance of Lizard is a reminder to create a space for dreaming. In her book, “Visioning Ten Steps to Designing the Life of your Dreams”, Lucia Capacchione talks about setting up a creativity gym, a place to exercise your imagination and vision. Dedicating a specific area can pose problems but as Capacchione points out, if you have a free table anywhere in the house, you have the makings of a portable studio.

Over the summer, while my son was here, we had a clearance in the ‘shed’ that was storing things that needed to be sorted and cleared. He did a great job and I now have a big table set up where I can spread out and be as messy as I like and vision what the transformations I have in mind for this space will actually look like. I want to take time to romance the creative spirit and to test run and see how much I use this space before upgrading in any way!

Tomorrow I am having wire mesh placed strategically so that the shed begins to disappear under a swathe of green!


Create your dreaming space today and share any images of what you have created!

Posted in A Donkey and A Raven, Apothecary for the Creative Spirit, Artistic Almshouse, Artistic Midwife, Aussie Birds and Animal Wisdom, Contemplative Practice, Expressive Arts, Frilled Neck Lizard, Heather Blakey, Killing Time, Purveyor of Creative Stimuli, Self Portraiture, Spirit Guides in Lemur, Wild Play

Potential for Self Knowledge

Art work by Ravenari – Wildspeak

Lizard is letting you know that it is time to take do an internal audit. Are you coming from your heart? Be aware – simply because the ego is the master of deception and you will often have to peel back many layers to get at the truth – and to discover what your heart is really telling you. Take the time to really focus on your personal dreams.

For a long time, I have worked with ‘others’ in mind! My heart is telling me to apply my artistic midwifery skills to self! As a result, I am spending time treasure hunting for inspiration and drawing again. Frilled neck lizard inspires me to stop camouflaging myself, to open up fully, step out into the bright light and own my artistic abilities.

When you are able to know what parts of yourself need to be on display you begin to know who you are as a person. There is great potential for self-knowledge with the frilled-neck lizard, who says that rather than hiding because of fear there are ways to display ourselves in ways that incite pride and admiration.

Posted in Apothecary for the Creative Spirit, Art and Healing, Artistic Almshouse, Artistic Midwife, Aussie Birds and Animal Wisdom, Aussie Birds and Animals, Expressive Arts, Heather Blakey, Killing Time, Nature Fix, Purveyor of Creative Stimuli, Resilience, Wild Play

The Advantages of Playing Dead

Over 52 weeks I will be learning all about how to live and work creatively. My teachers are Aussie birds and animals. It is week four and the creative force has produced the Possum to build on the lessons that Australian birds, animals and habitat are initiating.

This morning when I was out with the dogs, Archie alerted us to the fact that there was a possum tucked in the branches of one of the shade trees. It took us a moment to spy the frightened, frozen creature whose bright eyes seemed to be looking far far away. Given the fact that we were anticipating that temperatures would rise to 42c our primary concern was that this creature and its access to water. I have been filling vessels for the bird life at my house but with no tap in sight, there was little we could do.

Possum medicine uses a great deal of strategy. Possums are well-known for one of their tricks. These small animals are amongst a group of animals who have the capacity to play dead when predators are near. This way they trick other, larger animals, that they are dead and then attack them or avoid them after they give up on the hunt. This trick helps possums to survive in often dangerous habitats.

Despite idleness being dammed as slothfulness, as one of the seven deadly sins, inactivity plays a perfect role in human life! When we are idle we are actually keeping up a valuable tradition. There are many advantages to inaction! For a start, immobility conserves energy. A half an hour siesta can ward off coronary disease. Plato tells us that Socrates stood still for nearly 24 hours while ruminating on some particularly intractable problems.

Most people would recoil at the idea of doing this but they would be wise to learn from a possum. Sometimes we need to go into a torpor and not think about anything much. Sometimes we need to rest our brains and replenish, in readiness to receive messages from the creator and enjoy another creative spurt.


Posted in Apothecary for the Creative Spirit, Art and Healing, Artistic Almshouse, Artistic Midwife, Aussie Birds and Animal Wisdom, Aussie Birds and Animals, Back Yard Bird Life, Heather Blakey, Just Killing Time, Killing Time, Wild Play

Go Coddiwompling

Over 52 weeks I will be learning all about how to live and work creatively. My teachers are Aussie birds and animals. It is week three and the creative force has produced the Musk Lorikeet to build on the lessons that Australian birds, animals and habitat are initiating.

Musk Lorikeets are endemic to (only found in) south-eastern Australia, being widespread in eastern New South Wales, all regions of Victoria and in the south-east of South Australia. They are found in tall, open, dry forest and woodlands, dominated by eucalypts and are usually found in the canopy. They are also seen in suburban areas, parks and street trees. They roost or loaf in tall trees away from their feeding sites.

Musk Lorikeets are considered nomadic, following the flowering or fruiting of food trees and they travel widely for food. One might say that the Musk Lorikeet likes to coddiwomple! To Coddiwomple is to travel with no fixed destination. Coddiwomple is just one of at least six words that habitual travellers need.

In 2001 my late husband and I travelled for six months throughout the United Kingdom, Western Europe and Scandinavia with no fixed destination and no forward bookings. Our theory was that if we did not have a destination or a specific address to find we could not get lost. It was an amazing journey and we never slept in the car we had hired. We always found a bed for the night. We didn’t realise it at the time but we were Coddiwompling! To Coddiwomple is To travel in a purposeful manner towards a vague destination. The Coddiwomple family are constantly travelling with no fixed destination. After he died and I sold the family home I had no real destination in mind. I let fate guide me to my current home in Central Victoria.

Believe it or not, you do not have to leave home to coddiwomple. Travellers who joined me in Lemuria had no fixed purpose and no fixed destination. They were virtual travellers who slipped through the portal and let the Enchantress decide where the next adventure lay!

They wandered about in Gypsy Caravans, stopping occasionally at mysterious places like the Well of Remembrance, the Lemurian Abbey, the Isle of Ancestors, Owl Island, the House of the Serpents and Riversleigh Manor. Jo Chapman is a virtual Coddiwompler! She has an imaginary boyfriend who she travels with and they have been to some exotic places.

These days my main coddiwompling is with my little Mazda 3, Akari! She and I love to go out on mystery tours! I let her randomly decide where we are going. Yesterday I went coddiwompling out into the natural habitat of some of the wildlife that also makes its way into my backyard.


Posted in Art and Healing, Artistic Almshouse, Contemplative Practice, Killing Time, Lemurian Adventures, Purveyor of Creative Stimuli, Resilience, Self Portraiture, Tarot Story Starters

Tarot Story Starters

Sometimes, when I need fuel injected creativity, I turn to a Tarot deck. This deck is far from complete, but there are some stories lying behind my version of the Tarot. 2010 was a traumatic year for me so there were many swords appearing in my drawings.
Heather Blakey Pencil Drawings 2010

Posted in Art and Healing, Cemetery Explorers, Contemplative Practice, It is ALL about US and Our Life in Castlemaine, Killing Time, Resilience

Stones Record Family Losses

In the first few years of the colony, mortality was very high, but the common childhood infections were absent until the 1830s. From the 1880s, there was a sustained decline in mortality from communicable diseases, and therefore in aggregate mortality, while maternal mortality remained high.

Some details included with photos.

Posted in Akari Mystery Tours, Akari Write Your Own Adventure, Cemetery Explorers, Central Victoria Goldfields History, Contemplative Practice, Faded Central Victoria, Forgotten Central Victoria, Just Killing Time, Killing Time, Mystery Art Making Writing Tours, Nature Fix, Resilience

Akari Writes Her Own Adventures

I am sure you remember the Choose Your Own Adventure books, where you’re chased by a tiger.  You can escape it by leaping into the ocean 50 feet below (go to page 48) or face the tiger with your homemade slingshot (go to page 128).

Akari (my Mazda 3) loves driving through roads with avenues of white-trunked eucalypts. Side roads beckon! It is hard for her to resist them. However, while she could be talked into some sophisticated adventuring, Akari is no risk taker. For the moment she finds it is exciting enough to explore hidden valleys and go down unmade roads that are not only reserved for four-wheel drives.

Akari and I were out messing about today and we wandered along out of the way, an unmade bush road called Providence Gully Road. When we turned off the road, along another unmade road, to head towards civilisation, we came upon this rather dramatic entrance to a property. We thought this might be just the setting to write your own adventure.

The gate is open!

You take the time talk to all the bones and heads that are decorating the gate to learn more about what really lies within.


Thinking that Baba Yaga may live here and give you the creative fire you decide to ignore all the DO NOT ENTER signs and step through the portal into this private world.


Because you are so imaginative you think of something else!

Melissa Pilakowski puts forward a fun version of writing your own adventure using Hamlet as a kick starter.



Posted in Akari Mystery Tours, Art and Healing, Central Victoria Goldfields History, Contemplative Practice, Faded Central Victoria, Forgotten Central Victoria, Interpreting Spaces, Killing Time, Mystery Art Making Writing Tours, Old Roadside Stops

Faded Central Victorian Beauty

“Elegance is the only beauty that never fades…. -Audrey Hepburn

I beg to differ…
there are many beauties…..
such as…

Fading Victoria

Posted in Akari Mystery Tours, Art and Healing, Cemetery Explorers, Djadjawurrung People, Just Killing Time, Killing Time, Resilience, Vaughan Springs Cemetery, Victorian Gold Rush 1850

Honouring The Pioneers

Henry Lawson’s The Drover’s Wife is an Australian classic that depicts life for the early Australian pioneers. McCubbin’s monumental painting The pioneer reflects the self-conscious nationalism of the years immediately following Federation. Each panel is ‘read’ to link the progress of toil on this land across time.

The first panel shows a pioneering couple in their new bush environment: the man is lighting a fire to boil the billy, while the woman contemplates their future life. The second panel shows the couple several years later: the woman holds a baby, land has been cleared and a small house has been built. In the final panel a bushman discovers a grave, and in the background a city begins to emerge. It is uncertain who has died and whether the male figure is the pioneer, his son or a stranger. By presenting his painting across three panels – the triptych format for traditional religious art – McCubbin elevated the status of the pioneer within Australian art history.

The pioneers who came to Central Victoria are honoured in various ways. Less marks the lives of those people who lived on the land that was not actually empty when Europeans first arrived.

This installation, at the Vaughan Cemetery, was gifted by the artist in memory of her pioneering ancestors who, like couple, sacrificed so much and contributed to shaping the township of Vaughan. She also pays respect to the Dja Daj Warring, the first people who lived here.

Posted in Akari Mystery Tours, Art and Healing, Contemplative Practice, Faded Central Victoria, Forgotten Central Victoria, Interpreting Spaces, It is ALL about US, Just Killing Time, Killing Time, Mystery Art Making Writing Tours, Nature Fix, Victorian Gold Rush 1850, Welshman's Reef (Sandy Creek)

Cemetery Exploring With Akari

Workers and players have earned their repose.
Soon on their names all in vain we shall call,
For even the grandest old landmarks must fall.
Just a warm hand-clasp ere one disappears—
These are the last of the old pioneers.
John Sandes

Turn off the Castlemaine to Maldon road onto the gravel Sandy Creek road and follow the old Cobb & Co route, past the old hotel, where they stopped for a break and drive on  towards Welshman’s Reef through Box-ironbark country.

Welshmans Reef is a former gold mining town 15 km west of Castlemaine and 110 km north-west of Melbourne. The name presumably came about from a Welshman discovering the gold-bearing reef: there were numerous Welsh and Methodist settlers at neighbouring townships such as Fryerstown and Vaughan.

West of Welshmans Reef there were the Loddon flats, which enabled miners to diversify into farming. A school was opened in 1877. The place was seldom more than a hamlet and its peak pre-twenty-first-century census population of 215 persons was in 1915. In 1956 the Cairn Curran Reservoir was completed, inundating much of the river flats.

As you approach the hamlet a sign points to the old Sandy Creek Cemetery, a cemetery that was closed in 1956. Many pioneers who came seeking gold lie here. Noting our arrival a large mob of kangaroos took off, bounding across the creek.

The sight of so many small white, numbered markers, combined with the fact that there were only a few headstones, took my breath away. Memorials placed by descendants revealed that this  is a place to honour the pioneers who came here.

Posted in Art and Healing, Contemplative Practice, Killing Time, Resilience, Winter Frost in Castlemaine

The Etcher’s Secret

Last night, or maybe it was early this morning, Jack Frost, the master etcher, made an ice etching for me, leaving it, for me to find, in a metal bucket on my deck. “All who see it are astounded and think it must be the work of spirits”. In awe I  asked the master etcher “What is your secret?”

The Woodcarver

Khing, the master carver, made a bell stand
Of precious wood. When it was finished,
All who saw it were astounded. They said it must be
The work of spirits.
The Prince of Lu said to the master carver:
“What is your secret?”

Khing replied: “I am only a workman:
I have no secret. There is only this:
When I began to think about the work you commanded
I guarded my spirit, did not expend it
On trifles, that were not to the point.
I fasted in order to set
My heart at rest.

After three days fasting,
I had forgotten gain and success.
After five days
I had forgotten praise or criticism.
After seven days
I had forgotten my body
With all its limbs.

“By this time all thought of your Highness
And of the court had faded away.
All that might distract me from the work
Had vanished.
I was collected in the single thought
Of the bell stand.

“Then I went to the forest
To see the trees in their own natural state.
When the right tree appeared before my eyes,
The bell stand also appeared in it, clearly, beyond doubt.
All I had to do was to put forth my hand
and begin.

“If I had not met this particular tree
There would have been
No bell stand at all.

“What happened?
My own collected thought
Encountered the hidden potential in the wood;
From this live encounter came the work
Which you ascribe to the spirits.”

– Chuang Tzu
from The Way of Chuang Tzu by Thomas Merton

Posted in Akari Mystery Tours, Art and Healing, Cemetery Explorers, Central Victoria Goldfields History, Contemplative Practice, Interpreting Spaces, It is ALL about US and Our Life in Castlemaine, Killing Time, Mystery Art Making Writing Tours, Nature Fix, Time's Killing Me

The Past Dwells Here

An entire past comes to dwell here!
Gaston Bachelard ‘Poetics of Space’

In the summer of 2011, on the Ardnamurchan Peninsula on Scotland’s west coast, excavations revealed the only known Viking boat burial to be excavated on the British mainland in modern times. The vessel survived in the form of more than 200 rivets, many in their original location, and indicated a small clinker boat. It contained a sword, an axe, a spear, a ladle, an Irish bronze ring-pin and the bronze rim of a drinking horn. These items indicate that it was a remarkably rich Viking boat burial of a warrior. Positioned beside the warship Roskilde 6, the Ardnamurchan boat burial represents the final journey of a Viking warrior, sailing into the afterlife. Source: A History of the Viking World

An African proverb says that ‘when an old man dies, a library burns to the ground’.

Here at the Glenlyon Cemetery there may not be a rich treasury of artefacts, but rich memories lie here. One grave holds an image, perhaps created by the lad who died, forever young, who is mourned by his family.

Another tombstone in the Sutton Grange Cemetery includes images of a young lad skiing. A photo of his beloved dog watches over him. Nearby the crystals, of ‘a woman with a gentle soul’ are mingled among the stones of a beautiful modern memorial.

It is may not be as fashionable to spend time in cemeteries now but a graveyard can be  a great place to explore local history and genealogy, take a peaceful seasonal walk and contemplate the pasts that lie there.

It is also a great place to meditate, make art and enjoy a flask of coffee!

Posted in Art and Healing, Cemetery Explorers, Interpreting Spaces, Just Killing Time, Killing Time, Mystery Art Making Writing Tours, Rock Art

Interpreting Spaces

In an age of so much homogenised space, so much shoddy, cramped, dimly lit, low ceilinged space, these resting places offer a fresh way of interpreting and understanding space. In an era suffused by television and video games, fluorescent lighting and plastic floors, air conditioning and badly built houses these memorials demonstrate the poetry of space and love.

from forward to ‘The Poetics of Space’ written by John R Stilgoe


If I were asked to name the chief benefit of the house, I should say the house shelters daydreaming, the house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace.

All inhabited space bears the essence of home.
Gaston Bachelard

Posted in Akari Mystery Tours, Art and Healing, Contemplative Practice, It is ALL about US, Just Killing Time, Killing Time, Waltzing Matilda

Waltz With Matilda

Inexplicably, driving with Akari out to Moliagul, photographing an old thunder box (outdoor toilet) and a long abandoned house, filled me with the urge to wander further with my dogs sniff mapping. It made me think of swagmen and the much loved Waltzing Matilda.

Once a jolly swagman camped by a Billabong
Under the shade of a Coolabah tree
And he sang as he watched and waited till his billy boiled
“Who’ll come a-waltzing Matilda with me?”

Down come a jumbuck to drink at the water hole
Up jumped a swagman and grabbed him in glee
And he sang as he stowed him away in his tucker bag
“You’ll come a-waltzing Matilda with me.”

Up rode the Squatter a riding his thoroughbred
Up rode the Trooper–one, two, three
“Where’s that jumbuck you’ve got in your tucker bag?”
“You’ll come a-waltzing Matilda with me.”

But the swagman he up and jumped in the water hole
Drowning himself by the Coolabah tree,
And his ghost may be heard as it sings in the Billabong,
“Who’ll come a-waltzing Matilda with me?”

–from “Waltzing Matilda” by Andrew Barton “Banjo” Paterson, 1895.

“Advance Australia Fair” was proclaimed as Australia’s national anthem, replacing “God Save the Queen,” on 19 April 1984. If you ask an average Australian to sing the national anthem chances are that they will recite only the opening lines. However, if you ask an average Australian to sing “Waltzing Matilda” it is almost certain that they will sing about the swagman [1] who stole a jumbuck [2] and fled from the troopers [3] with some flourish.

“Waltzing Matilda,” Australia’s unofficial anthem, is known and loved all over the world and, arguably stands alongside” The Star-Spangled Banner” or ” La Marseillaise” as a song capable of arousing deep national pride. The strains of “Waltzing Matilda” consistently bring a tear to the eyes of Australians far from home, Australians who, like the late Peter Allen, still like to call Australia home.

Where did the song originate? Why do Australians find “Waltzing Matilda” so unutterably poignant? What do the words mean? Why are Australians moved by the escapades of a petty criminal?

‘Waltzing Matilda’ is credited to Andrew Barton (Banjo) Paterson (1864 -1941). Banjo Paterson was a lawyer by profession and lived and worked in Sydney Australia. Although Paterson was a city slicker who hailed from the urban fringes of Australia, he was, like so many of his ilk, enchanted by the Australian bush and outback. Paterson is purported to have been travelling with his fiancée in central Queensland, about 1,500 km north of Sydney when he wrote the song. The couple are said to have spent a few weeks at Dagworth Station, a vast outback station near Winton in Queensland. It was at Dagworth that Paterson is said to have met Christina MacPherson, whose brother managed the station at the time. One yarn [4] suggests that it was Christina who inspired Banjo with a whimsical, dreamy rendition of the tune ‘Craigeelee’, a score which provided the basis for ‘Waltzing Matilda’

The expression ‘waltzing matilda’ is believed to have German origins. Handolf, near Adelaide was just one of the many German settlements that sprang up in Australia once free immigrants began to arrive and German expressions quickly made their way into the vocabulary. It is almost certain that the title of Paterson’s ballad came from the expression Auf die Waltz gehen, that means to take to the road. The term harks back to the Middle Ages when apprentices were required by their master to visit other masters before their release could be secured. Later a ‘matilda’ was given to female camp followers who accompanied soldiers during the Thirty Year War in Europe and was common place during World War One.In the context of the song ‘Waltzing Matilda’ the ‘matilda’ was a pack that swagmen carried, filled with things tho keep them warm at night. To waltz with matilda literally meant to travel, to dance from place to place in search of work, with one’s belongings wrapped in a grey blanket. [5]

Paterson, like most Australians who lived in the cities, was fascinated by stories of the hostile, arid outback. Deaths in the outback were well publicized. Deaths on the track were a common occurrence and it is likely that the fate of travelers would have been a subject of conversation of an evening while Paterson was at Dagworth. Stories of those that perished would have been told along the bush telegraph, shared over dinner, acting as a cautionary tale for the foolhardy. For example, one story that drifted down the bush telegraph told of the fate of Seymour Hamilton, a nineteen-year-old, two years out from England. He left Tinga Tinagans for Coongie but never arrived. Subsequent searches found his packsaddle and swag. He was believed to have died of thirst and, when his bones were finally found, they had been scattered and gnawed by dingoes.

Another formative influence on Paterson may have been the story of an incident that actually occurred at Dagworth. an incident on the property that must have become known to him during his stay. On 1 September 1894, a mere four months earlier, shearers had set the Dagworth woolshed ablaze, cremating a hundred sheep. MacPherson and three police troopers had pursued the shearers. [6]

It is almost certain that Banjo Paterson threaded together events such as these when he conjured up “Waltzing Matilda”. But why has the story endured? How has “Waltzing Matilda” made its way into the Australian psyche?

Modern Australians may live predominantly in urban zones but this does not lessen the call of the outback, the lure of the bush, or lessen their need to hear yarns of pioneering ancestors who left Old England’s shore, picked up lumps of gold [7] and went on to build a nation on the back of the sheep. Australian stories and art that have endured are invariably set in the bush and involve the triumph of the underdog.

The setting of “Waltzing Matilda” is enough to fuel a deep yearning within Australians to escape from the concrete cities of the urban fringes. To travel the outback, with my swag all on my shoulder, to witness the stark beauty and isolation of this most ancient of lands, to lie beneath the Southern Cross, to smell the unique perfume of the eucalypt, is a dream, a quest that sends thousands of wanderers towards the red centre each year, in search of just such a place. To lie while the billy [8] boils, to dream by a billabong [9], under the shade of a Coolabah tree is akin to finding the eternal Garden of Eden.

Moreover, “Waltzing Matilda” builds support for the underdog and creates a hero out of a gutsy, destitute man. The hapless swagman in this story was one of thousands of unemployed men who tramped around the Australian bush during the mid nineteen eighties, usually coming to sheep stations at sunset to ask for supper and a bed, when it was too late to work. (Sometimes called a Sundowner because they arrived at sundown when it was too late to be expected to work.)

We can only speculate, but it is more than likely that, having been refused supper or a bed, the swagman of “Waltzing Matilda” fame, camped for the night by a billabong, under the shade of a Coolabah tree [10] meditating upon where his next meal was to come from. The squatter and troopers, who swooped down upon this swaggie, demanding that he give up the jumbuck, represent despised wealth and authority. It is no coincidence that the Squatter is riding a thoroughbred horse and that he brings not one, but three troopers to help retrieve his stock. The swagman’s defiance touches a deep anti-authoritarian archetype that springs from the days of the Eureka Stockade, The First Fleet, the Rum Corps and the personal history of those early convicts who were transported to Australia for petty crimes.

The early Australian settlement was confined within the curves of the Blue Mountains and as the settlement grew, free settlers arrived explorers sought new land for grazing. People ‘squatted’ on patches of land, grazed their animals, grew their crops and built their houses and fences. In good quality grazing country squatters claimed vast areas and became wealthy. The term ‘squattocracy’, a term blended from the word ‘squatter’ came to be associated with ‘aristocracy’. The police worked with them to maintain law and order and to protect their holdings. Consequently, squatters were an object of resentment.

The pastoralist/squatter’s reluctance to mete out food, his need to protect his flock is understandable given the swarms of penniless, badly clothed men wandering discontentedly from hut to hut and station to station, but the crime of the swagman in this story seems petty! A hungry, destitute man, down on his luck, steals one sheep on a sheep station with a flock of thousands. This is hardly a hanging offence, any more than stealing a loaf of bread warranted transportation.

Apart from the anti-authoritarian overtones there is no doubt that “Waltzing Matilda” romanticizes the larrikin quality of the jolly swaggie, jumping with glee. Who can resist this rascal’s charm? A character, unique, fiercely independent, the swagman is not to be patronized. It is his free spirit that sends him to a watery death and haunts Australians as his ghost may be heard, singing in the Billabong. The swagman, like Joan of Arc, never dies. They cut out Joan’s heart and thought that this was the end of her but she lives on. Similarly the ghostly figure of the unnamed Swagman has eternal life, representing a freedom of movement and thought that many Australians now take for granted.

At day’s end, “Waltzing Matilda” is poignant because of the combination of characteristics that sum up so much of Australian spirit and life. “Waltzing Matilda” reminds us of our ancestral history, defines nationhood and fills Australians with a sense of pride that the country was built by people who had been deemed dregs, but who were courageous and innovative and built something from nothing. The ghost of the swagman may be found in the faces of the pioneers who settled the Never Never; in the eyes of the hardened shearing unionist who paved the way for Unionism in Australia; within the defiance of the Anzac storming the beaches of Gallipoli; in the stride of the Bondi life-saver and in the face of the determined protestor thumbing his nose at government officials and bureaucracy.

Australians will never fully accept “Advance Australia Fair” as their national anthem because it is the song of a city-based intellectual, full of stilted language that paints Australians as something they are not. Australians will always respond to “Waltzing Matilda” because “Waltzing Matilda” has moved from being a bush ballad to a creation myth, a yarn told in a language now almost as unfamiliar as Latin, a glorious romantic tale that helps to identify and separate Australia and Australians from every other country, every other people on the globe.

[1] A gentleman of the road, an itinerant roaming country roads, a drifter, a tramp, a hobo. Carried his few belongings slung in a cloth, which was called by a wide variety of names, including ‘swag’, ‘shiralee’ and ‘bluey’.

[2] A sheep: aboriginal word meaning white cloud.

[3] A cavalry soldier, or perhaps a mounted militia-man or policeman.

[4] an Australian story.

[5] From the Web site: About Waltzing Matilda, Senani Ponnamperuma, 1996, 1997.

[6] From the Web site: About Waltzing Matilda, Senani Ponnamperuma, 1996, 1997.

[7] This is in reference to the Gold Rush which saw an influx of gold seekers to towns like Ballarat.

[8] A can or small kettle used to boil water for tea.

[9] Billabong: a waterhole near a river.

[10] A kind of eucalyptus tree.

Posted in Art and Healing, Contemplative Practice, It is ALL about US and Our Life in Castlemaine, Just Killing Time, Killing Time, Mystery Art Making Writing Tours, Nature Fix, Time's Killing Me

Mail Box Spotting and Front Yard Art

“The mailman, if he’s extra tired, would pass them in his sleep,
It’s safest to address the note to ‘Care of Conroy’s sheep’,
For five and twenty thousand head can scarcely go astray,
You write to ‘Care of Conroy’s sheep along the Castlereagh’.”
A.B. ‘Banjo’ Paterson,
“The Travelling Post Office”
The Bulletin, 10 March 1894

A homogeneous, common, admittedly ageing, urban letterbox.

Most countries tend to have standardized mailboxes with uniform colours.  Japan makes them original. They have things like Kawai and mascots with amazing boxes, customized according to their location.

One of the first things that people see when they visit you at your house is the mailbox. Not every one is satisfied with the standard variety of boxes available in the hardware store. Mailboxes can be turned into amazing front yard decorations. Building creative affairs does not require large investment. All you need is an imagination galore which is free.

If you are not up to making a unique mailbox you can kill time mailbox spotting. Sunday drives may not be in fashion now but humour me. I thought of my parents as I drove around back roads looking for  letterboxes with character.

When we were kids we were fairly easily entertained. I grew up in Gippsland and have memories of the long trip to the city. To keep us occupied my mother had us play various versions of  “I Spy With My Little Eye’ or we identified the makes of cars passing by. Now, sadly, children are occupied with a device and there is less conversation.

This is not my father but he had a very similar rig when he was delivering bread to outlying places.

On our Sunday drives, up and down laneways and byways, we took in all kinds of detail; checking out what improvements people were making to their places. Having delivered bread to outlying farms with a horse and bread cart, Dad knew the region well and people had all sorts of unusual boxes to leave the bread in.

Head out this weekend.  Just for a change, pack the thermos and a picnic and go mail box spotting. Look for weird and wonderful letterboxes.

A collection of found letterboxes! Well! They were not actually lost! They were found in backroads around Castlemaine and beyond. While no addresses are shown, if your letter box appears here and you would rather it not be shown, I will remove the image.

Like these sisters, you could always go on a bike ride and look for unique mail boxes. Aim to see as many unusual letter boxes as possible, take lots of photos and keep a sketch book filled with fun ideas for front yard art.  Decide which is your favourite! Believe me! It is quite addictive to do this.

Share some photos in the comment box here or on Facebook. Head to an Office Works, print the best photos quite cheaply and randomly post them in more traditional letterboxes, like this one, to remind people just what a statement they could be making with their letterbox.